04-06-2012 09:30 PM
DEAD FOR THE MONEY
A Dead Detective Mystery
By Peg Herring
When Dead Detective Seamus is asked to investigate the death of wealthy businessman William Dunbar, he agrees, but there is an additional request. Will he take a detective-in-training along? Reluctantly, Seamus agrees and meets Mildred, who seems charming if a little headstrong.
Suspects include Dunbar’s family and staff, notably his beloved grandson Bud, who was with him when he fell from a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. There’s chemistry between Bud and a member of the household staff, Scarlet. Seamus wonders why they work so hard to keep it hidden. As they try to learn what happened, Mildred decides she must help Dunbar’s adopted granddaughter Brodie, a problem child devastated by “Gramps” death. Brodie feels that no one on earth cares about her now, and Mildred becomes determined to convince her otherwise.
Disgusted by the fact that Mildred ignores the rules of non-interference with the Living, Seamus works on without her. Events soon spin out of control. A kidnapping leads to a desperate chase toward the Straits of Mackinac, where several characters find themselves in peril. Will Mildred become a lost soul? Will Brodie find the will to survive? Can Seamus help his host defeat the killer, or is he more hindrance than help? Nothing is sure except the reason behind it all. Just like William Dunbar, others he cares for might end up Dead for the Money.
Peg Herring lives in beautiful northern Michigan with her husband of many decades. She writes historical, vintage, and contemporary mysteries that feature strong women with great stories. Her mystery series set in Tudor England focuses on Elizabeth Tudor, who enlists the help of Simon Maldon, a crippled apothecary, when there are crimes to be solved. The first in the series, Her Highness’ First Murder, released from Five Star Press in January of 2010. Also in 2010, Herring released her first e-book with Red Rose Publishing, a Vietnam-era mystery called Go Home and Die.
Mike was near the dining hall doorway and Seamus guessed he had been waiting for him to return from his meeting with Gabriel.
“You here to twist my arm?”
“You know better.” Mike’s gaze swept the room, always alert. “What do you think?”
Of all of them, Seamus liked Mike best, perhaps because, as the angel explained, he spent so much time around people that he’d become like them. Since everyone on board was his responsibility, Mike had little of the other angels’ distance. He mingled with the guests all the time, unlike Gabe and Nancy, who spent their time in an office and dealt with people one at a time. It was Mike who watched over them, who tried to help them adjust to the biggest news of their lives—death. Mike was able to judge which guests struggled with questions of eternity, and he was always nearby, to talk, to listen, and to intercede when someone was unable to accept what had happened.
In the process, Mike had learned to enjoy eating food, especially anything fried. He played a mean game of pool and could even be caught taking a nap on deck from time to time.
Seamus watched Mike scan the crowd for signs of discontent. “I’m probably not a good choice to be somebody’s guide,” he said. “I do things my own way.”
Mike shrugged. “Gabe knows that. But we think you’re the guy who can handle Mildred.”
“What is it about this woman?”
“She’s very...sure of herself,” Mike said. “We paired her with Drake, but the two of them disagreed from the very first.”
“Drake and Tellson both turned her down?”
“Gabe thinks you’re the right type. And he wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.”
“What makes it important?”
Mike paused, and Seamus hoped their long association meant that he would be honest. Of course, he reminded himself, a long time for a dead guy probably wasn’t that long to an angel. Still, he thought Mike respected him and knew he could handle the truth.
“The goal here is for everyone to find peace, you know that,” Mike began. “Free will allows that peace to come when and how a person wants it.”
Seamus glanced over Mike’s shoulder at the dining room, where the overhead lights had been turned down and pale colors glowed from recessed panels in the walls. A clarinetist stood and began a reedy solo. Most of these people, now dancing, chatting, and relaxing, would soon finish The Process, accepting gratefully what the afterlife offered. Perhaps one in ten would hang back, nervous about what they found hard to understand. Some felt they were not worthy of reward. Others liked the creature comforts and wanted to enjoy them for a while. Still others, like Dunbar, had unsettled questions that caused them to cling to their earthly connections. And guys like me, Seamus thought, miss the feeling of being real.
“What’s this woman’s reason for wanting to cross-back?”
“That’s part of it. We’re not sure. She has a good heart, but—” Mike stopped.
Unwilling to speak ill of the dead? Seamus almost chuckled at the thought. “She’s not crazy, is she?”
“Nobody brings disease, mental or physical, when they cross over, Seamus. You know that.”
He hadn’t really thought about it much, but he’d never seen anyone who acted crazy.
“She has the right to do this. We’ve given her all the warnings and she still wants to go. But she’s a bit of a bulldozer who will need someone strong to keep her in line. And,” Mike searched for the right words, “someone who can resist her. She’s a charming bulldozer.”
What a mess, Seamus thought. All he wanted was to do the job he was good at. Now they wanted him to babysit! Still, Mike and Gabe had been good to him, appreciative of his talents and his willingness to bear the discomforts of crossing back.
“I guess I’d better meet this Mildred,” Seamus said with a sigh. “Then I’ll make my decision.”
Mike turned toward the room, searching the dance floor. “She’s on the dance floor right now. I can put you at her table.”
“The table next to it would be better.”
“Whatever you like.”
Mike led Seamus to a table where several chairs sat empty, vacated by dancers. Pulling up a chair from a nearby table, he made introductions to the two people sitting there. “This is Seamus. He wants to listen to the band for a while.”
The two women smiled politely and returned their gaze to the dance floor. Seamus ignored their talk of clothing and instead watched the dancers and tried to guess which one was Mildred. He counted the chairs at her table: nine, three of them occupied. Table numbers were always between four and nine. People function best in groups of that size, he’d heard.
As he waited, people came and went. The table’s company included three women who were likely possibilities for Mildred. One was large enough to “hunt bear with a switch,” as his father would have phrased it. One was young and cute in a twenty-something way. The third was a diminutive blond of about forty with sparkling blue eyes and a dazzling smile. One of those women who attract attention effortlessly, she was a popular dancing partner. Seamus found himself hoping she was Mildred.
She was. Looking around, Seamus saw Mike watching him. He nodded, brows quirked in a “see what you think” expression. Rubbing a hand along the back of his neck, Seamus wriggled his brows and turned back to the dance floor.
For once Seamus enjoyed a half hour in the company of his fellow passengers. He watched Mildred as she danced with different partners, moving gracefully, adapting easily to whatever tune was played. The dress she wore had classic lines and a filmy drape that seemed to caress her shoulders as she moved to the music. Her hair was swept back with two combs whose tiny jewels caught the light when she turned.
The evening’s entertainment ended and he waited as she took leave of her companions. An elderly man told one more story that involved much hand-waving and eyebrow movement. Mildred smiled up at him as if fascinated. At the doorway, she patted his arm, said something that seemed vaguely promising, and left him behind.
Watching her, Seamus had to admit he wouldn’t mind having those blue eyes fasten on him, listening as he taught her what he knew about crossing back. Despite his reluctance to have any company at all, a woman of his own age, and a pretty one at that, wouldn’t be too bad. If Mildred was interested in becoming a detective for the dead, he could help.
04-07-2012 04:53 PM
04-09-2012 08:28 AM
Congratulations on your new release! Now, I'll have to get busy and read the first two in the series!
Your historical novels look very interesting also!
04-11-2012 06:40 AM
I love the historicals, although they're a little more work with all the research required. I always learn something new, so that's good. Actually, I love whichever book I'm working on right now!
04-11-2012 07:55 PM
Hi Peg, I love historical fiction ! English most of all. It must have been fun doing the research for your books of Tudor English history and Shakespeare !